Title: Five Things That Never Happened to Cara, But Totally Could've
Fandom: Legend of the Seeker
Pairing/Characters: Gen, with a spot of Cara/Kahlan and Kahlan/Richard in the background
Summary: Really, like most of the ill-fated situations they find themselves in, it all started because of some wimpy little peasant girl whose hysterics and sobbing made it difficult for Cara to understand precisely what she was suppose to kill.
Disclaimer: Legend of the Seeker does not belong to me.
Author's note: Written for oltha_heri, just cause she's awesome! And beta'd by racethewind10, who is equally awesome! My first foray into femslash, and erm, I would call this crackish humor, but knowing what I know about this fandom's definition of crack, I'm just gonna say this is good ol' plain humor. ;)
Cara is adamantly of the opinion that this is entirely that peasant girl's fault. Cara is, no matter what the others claim, not responsible for the current predicament of body switching that's going on among the group. Yes, it's a certain form of traumatizing that she's currently in Zedd's body, who implausibly has more hair on his body than he even does on his head. (And she's also fairly sure that she just witnessed Richard grope himself in Kahlan's body – another form of disconcerting.) But it isnot her fault.
Really, like most of the ill-fated situations they find themselves in, it all started because of some wimpy little peasant girl whose hysterics and sobbing made it difficult for Cara to understand precisely what she was suppose to kill.
So she killed the wrong thing instead, and a curse fell.
Not. Her. Fault.
"Where am I supposed to place this?" Richard-in-Kahlan's body asks, holding up a small dagger. "There's no space on my belt."
Kahlan-in-Cara's body, who quite frankly has the best of this situation, nods her head aside. "Along your thigh. There's a holster for the dagger."
Richard lifts his skirt, then stares at the healthy expanse of a milky white thigh for several seconds longer than necessary.
"Stop ogling yourself, Richard!" Zedd-in-Richard's body exclaims. "It's becoming obscene."
Cara rolls her eyes. "This from the man who can't stop demonstrating his muscles by flexing with exaggerated gesturing and pointing." She parodies by pointing, bending Zedd's pathetic excuse for biceps. "Oh, look, we have to go over there." She flexes and points again. "Oh, no, we have to cross that stream right there. Honestly, Zedd, it's like you've forgotten what it's like to be in a young man's body."
Zedd glares at her, but Richard's softer features lessen the smolder behind it. Cara likes to think it's a face that was never made to glare for any extended period of time before returning to a default puppy dog look.
"Let's just get moving," Kahlan exclaims, before Zedd ends up mauling his own body.
"My stomach hurts," Richard complains, grimacing a little. "Did you eat something bad this morning, Kahlan?"
Cara and Kahlan exchange a glance. Terrific. The legendary Seeker is going to get his first case of cramps and probably promptly kill himself. It only figures, what with the luck they're having today.
"This is not my fault," Cara repeats adamantly.
She is not panicking. Cara does not panic. She wouldn't know how, because a Mord Sith panicking is about as good as a virginal whore. She does not panic.
Even if the urge to panic is there.
The kid breaks, flying into Cara's arms with flowing hair and big tears and a high-pitched sobbing, and Cara just stands, her hands filled with this tiny human being that for reasons passing comprehension is convinced, utterly and without hesitation, that Cara is her mother.
Kahlan and Richard are staring at Cara in surprise, while Zedd is too busy staring at the child in horror.
(Cara thinks Zedd has the right idea.)
"What—" Cara begins, while the blonde haired, blued eyed little monster continues to cry. But, oh, if only it were a monster, Cara would know how to handle that. (Beheading is always a favorite.) But this? This, Cara just stays stock rigid, repeating, "What does it want?"
It – not she. Anything under the age of eight surely doesn't qualify for a pronoun of a specific gender form, right?
It takes them a few hours to figure it out, but it's probably a little less than a day before Cara even begins to approach the possibility that perhaps it's… plausible. Maybe.
The child is from some reality unlike their own, where Cara grew up as Cari, a simple peasant girl. Cari never lost her father; she was never kidnapped as a child and raised as a Mord Sith. She grew up to be a farmer's wife – fair, benevolent and kind, and she spawned an equally fair-haired offspring.
"She's a child, Cara," Kahlan says tiredly. "She's scared. It wouldn't kill you to show some affection."
"It might," Cara counters. "I don't do that. I don't… do affection. Motherly things."
"Careful, Cara," Zedd taunts. "You try human emotions, you might be infected with the urge to pick flowers in the valley, or sing and dance merrily through the woods at random moments. It's been known to happen, you know."
Cara sends a glare, but she's already been warned several times against expounding upon colorful threats in the presence of impressionable young children. It goes on like that for a while. The kid – her name is actually Lena, but Cara always calls her the kid, the child, once, even, she was referred to as the midget – is incredibly small and incessantly clingy. Cara generally doesn't know what to do around her, because all the things Cara normally does are "not appropriate" anymore.
Still, entirely despite herself, Cara acknowledges the kid is… not as unpleasant as she could be. She thinks, perhaps, that there is something of their family's steel and resolve hidden underneath the thin frame of such a small body. They've traveled leagues in their time together, but the girl has never complained, never whined, and when she talks, it is rarely of things that Cara finds annoying.
Eventually, Cara even stops flinching when the child reaches to take her hand.
"If you're here long enough," Cara tells her, late at night around the fireplace, "I'll teach you how to shoot an arrow."
Lena beams. "Really?"
Cara approves of the enthusiasm. "No child of mine will have a bad aim."
They never get the chance, though. Zedd finds a way to send the child back home, and two days later, suddenly, abruptly, Cara is staring down at the child with pale blue eyes and long blonde hair, and something heavy is settled like ice in her chest. Lena has the eyes of her grandfather, the ones that Cara can barely remember anymore without thinking of the grief she had seen moments before she executed his death. Cara tries not to think about the comparison, but it's difficult.
"Tell your mother," Cara says, "that she needs to teach you how to hunt on your own. A woman must never rely on a man for things she can easily do herself. Promise me you'll learn."
Lena nods, with tears in her eyes. "I'm scared. I don't want to say goodbye to you!"
A part of Cara – the Mord Sith in her – wants to admonish the child on showing weakness. Another part, though, some part that's been growing ever since she agreed to help a Seeker, a Confessor and a Wizard on a suicidal quest, just wants to protect this child, shield it from any evils so that she may stay as carefree and innocent as she is in this moment.
Cara, awkwardly, but no less resolute, pulls the small girl into a hug. "I'll miss you, Lena."
It's the first time she's called the child by her given name.
It's also the last.
"Thank the Creator!" a man exclaims. "We're saved! The Seeker is here!"
Cara tosses Kahlan a look. "And what are we? Chopped liver?"
It's the standard drama. Banelings who bring black magic and plagues. A battle seems like the logical next step to Cara, but of course Richard gets drawn into some sob story of one of the evildoers. To be succinct, this particular baneling in this particular village claims that he has information on the Keeper and wants to use it against the forces of dark.
And Richard, for one, immediately believes him. Don't get Cara wrong. She owes her undying loyalty to Richard, and he's earned that loyalty by proving to be an honorable, brave and kind soul – if you like that sort of thing. Lately, Cara is coming to appreciate stuff like that more and more, sometimes even despite herself. But sensible? No one has ever really called Richard sensible, and with good cause. Some days, she just wants to sit him down and educate him on the ins-and-outs and true motives behind evil. Or slap some sense into him. (The slapping is more Cara's style.)
"So, let me get this straight," Cara summarizes. "You want to follow this baneling across the plains to this place where he claims the Keeper has hidden a valuable item that could spell his downfall… and none of this seems like a trap to you?"
"Well, when you say it like that—"
"You mean like a sane person?"
Richard sighs. "We have no choice. If what he's saying is true, it could mean the end of the Keeper."
Three days later, when the suspected trap turns out to be… well, an actual trap, she knows if she were a better person, a person like Kahlan, she would never say I-told-you-so. But, given that she isn't Kahlan with all her perfection and innocence and rightness, Cara has absolutely no problem slaying some three-headed monster with the hefty decapitation and declaring to Richard afterwards, "I told you so."
Richard rolls his eyes. "It's in your nature to be cynical and pessimistic."
"I'm just a realist," Cara denies.
That's precisely when the baneling's story presents itself as true. The ground quakes beneath their feet, and a cavern reveals itself. It takes them a day of exploration – and a few more monstrous decapitations – before they discover a stone of some indefinable, invaluable importance.
"I told you so," Richard later declares, and Cara can imagine he's barely resisting the urge to stick his tongue out.
Cara sheathes her sword and rolls her eyes. "Lucky," she calls out, and walks away.
The boys are gazing up at Cara with matching dopey-eyed grins. And the term 'boys' here encapsulates a Wizard of the First Order and the legendary Seeker. The Infatuation Spell is going to last another few hours, possibly a day, so Cara will hold off her temper for that long and suffer through the indignity of this. But, she swears it, if Zedd pinches her ass one more time, she's going to take her agiel and shove it so far up his ass that the man won't be able to walk straight for weeks.
"Cara," Kahlan calls from the side, batting her eyelashes with exaggerated flare. "Could you help me here?"
Cara counts to ten in order to contain her exasperation. All day long, Kahlan has been some warped version of a lovesick young maiden. Gone is the woman that Cara has come to acknowledge as her friend and equal; instead there's been clinging and handholding and a bout where Kahlan attempted to braid Cara's hair. Oh, please, Cara! I do so want to help you pin up your hair today!
"What is it this time?" Cara says with a long-suffering sigh. "Did you break a nail?"
"I've never broken a nail!" Richard exclaims with pride, having misunderstood the sentiment behind the remark. He's been attempting to one-up Zedd and Kahlan all day long in order to gain Cara's favor, and the constant exaggerations and outright lies are getting far beyond amusing. "In fact, I've never broken a bone in my body!"
"Is that an invitation?" Cara volleys back, sourly.
It's a hollow threat.
"Cara!" Kahlan calls, disappearing around the corner of the house. "Cara, you need to see this!
Cara takes in a long-drawn out breath. "Stay," she orders Zedd and Richard, like they're children, then leaves to find Kahlan. "What is it this tim—"
She breaks off in surprise to find Kahlan stripping down naked behind the house. All Cara sees and comprehends for a full three seconds is a curve-hugging corset, lots of skin and flowing dark hair – and then Cara blinks and remembers herself again.
"What—" Cara begins, before Kahlan can lose her underwear, "—in the name of the Creator are you doing?"
Kahlan pouts. "You don't like?"
Cara pauses, because – yeah, she's not going to go there. A long time ago, Cara promised herself that she'd never entertain the idea of Kahlan as a lover, because there's this whole epic star-crossed lovers thing between Richard and Kahlan that a blind, deaf and dumb man could see from leagues away. They practically declare their undying devotion to each other on a bi-hourly basis, so Cara knows she's doesn't really have a shot.
(She'd tried, once, with Richard, and that had ended in her pride being wounded more than she cared to admit.)
"No," she denies, bolding lying, "I don't like. I like your clothes. I like you in your clothes."
Kahlan blinks, looking like she might cry. Cara has her face firmly trained with a look that most would find intimidating and threatening, because that's just how Cara looks when faced with a situation she doesn't know how to handle. But, then, Kahlan breaks out in a sob. Then another. For a long second afterwards, Cara is internally recalling every foul word imaginable that she's learned in all the various midland regions.
"Kahlan," Cara says eventually, retracting. "I like. I like very much. Now – Put. Your. Clothes. Back. On."
"What is it, precisely, that you like?"
Cara does a double take. "What?"
"What about me do you like?"
It sounds like Kahlan is still on the verge of tears, so Cara sighs, struggling for an answer. "I don't know. You're smart. You're brave. If you want a list of qualities to find admirable about you, I'm sure Richard would be more than happy to oblige. I'm sure he could even sing you a sonnet about it."
Unfortunately, Richard somehow overhears this and is suddenly standing at her back. "I can, Cara, if you wish of it of me! I can sing the best sonnet ever sung, one that does justice to the beauty of the women in front of me!" To her everlasting horror, because her day is just going that badly, Richard starts singing. "Oh, Cara! Oh, Kahlan! With your flowing locks of hair, and your daggers and your flare! What men—"
"Richard!" Cara cuts in sharply. "Do shut up."
Richard pouts, looking crestfallen.
Give her plagues. Give her banelings. Give her black magic that brings sores and blistering warts and the worst symptoms of some offensive sexually transmitted disease. Give her an enemy, no matter how powerful, and Cara will wreck havoc and play merrily in their blood until the last drop has been spilt on the sands beneath her feet.
Anything but a spell that turns her friends into this.
Kahlan offers Cara a timid smile. "You really think I'm smart and brave?"
"Less and less so as this day wears on, but yes, Kahlan. You are. I don't associate with idiots." She glances warily at Richard. "And please don't make me a liar."
Kahlan sniffles an affirmative answer, and then starts dressing again. Cara prays that amnesia is going to be a side effect to the cure of this Infatuation spell. She suspects when Kahlan returns to normal, not even torture by agiels will force her to ever acknowledge this incident.
None of this stops Cara from sneaking one last glance before she leaves.
Some time in winter, they kill an unusually tall witch and it turns out to be the beginning of a long string of bad luck. Because, naturally, for them there isn't any other kind. This brand seems to make them a bit… clumsy and easily injured.
"I am Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander," Zedd declares, "a wizard of the First Order. Some common witch will not outdo me. I can handle this!"
Around the time Richard trips over a rock and breaks his right foot, Cara begins to have her doubts. Kahlan has a rash that covers half her body because she stumbled into a bush of poison berries, and Cara has a rather long and ugly scar on her back from being attacked by… well, when she told the others, the story went that she was attacked by a fearsome bear. Truthfully, it was a family of squirrels. Vicious, biting, clawing angry squirrels, but squirrels nonetheless.
She blames the spell, of course. She could have handled the squirrels otherwise.
(Her pride is still stinging from that, though.)
"Can you fix this?" Richard asks, desperately.
"Before one of us ends up dead?" Cara adds, wearily.
Zedd clears his throat. "Well, yes, but it involves us doing a ritual dance around a fire, singing an ancient midland chant. While naked."
Cara pauses, horrified. She still hasn't gotten over the incident of being body-swapped with Zedd, and if she never sees the bits and pieces of his anatomy ever again, she'll die a happy woman.
Zedd adds, "In the circle, we also have to open our hearts up and confess our deepest feelings of longing and love."
Cara feels like the world is shrinking in on her, before she narrows her eyes. "You're making this up."
"Yes," Zedd agrees quickly. "But admit it, I had you going for a second."
Zedd ends up with a bruise on his forearm, but that has less to do with clumsy spell and more to do with Cara being… well, violent. The main ingredient in the cure turns out to be some obscure flower, which normally wouldn't be that big of a headache except for the fact that they're all as graceful as a horde of wild animals in a stampede, and the flower's only known origin rests on the far end of an abandoned minefield.
"Huh," Richard says. "This can't be good."
Cara sheathes her agiel. "I'll do it. If I don't survive, at least it'll spare me the embarrassment of an undignified death."
Getting blown up in a minefield she can handle. Another round of attack-of-the-squirrels, she cannot. In the end, she makes it through the minefield without anything more than one harrying close call. She finds the flower and brings it back to Zedd, who promptly sets about brewing the cure. (Well, he actually first burns himself on the campfire, but then he promptly brews the cure.)
Later that night, Cara volunteers to make everyone dinner.
"Wow, Cara," Kahlan mutters. "This is the best soup you've ever made. What is it?"
Cara smirks. "Squirrel soup."